« Reflections on Egypt | Main | Amr Khaled and wars of ideas »

January 22, 2007


Hugh from Houston

Marc says, "The idea that a lot of Sunnis are converting to Shi'ism is bizarrely widespread given that I haven't been able to track down even a single documented case of it."

One of my Palestinian friends told me that in the wake of Israel pulling out of Lebanon in 2000, some members of the PFLP began paying a lot more attention to Hizbollah, listening to Nasrallah's speeches on CD, reading his and other Shia's writings, and not a few actually converted. A still quite small number, to be sure, but my friend assures me that it has happened.

Which is not to deny the larger point, that it most certainly is not widespread.


Hugh is right, although Palestinians have been listening to Hezbollah for awhile. Nasrallah and Hezbollah have been able to cross sectarian lines for two major reason: one, a common enemy and the proof that an unconventional army and an undeniably focused will can prevail over what often seems a Goliath-like conventional Israeli force, and second, Hezbollah's jump from strictly militantcy to political participation has set a great example that violence is not the only route to take and that groups can pursue a political option while attempting to phase out the militant one (no thanks to Israel for the July 06 debacle). What worries me about this Sunni-Shi'a rift that's quickly widening to a larger chasm throughout the Middle East proper, is that it can suck in old grievances and politicize even further governmental opposition in places like Egypt, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia where Shi'as are identified by their governments as illegal opposition. What easier way to rid yourself of "annoying" opposition than to label them "terrorists" or "Iranian-backed Shi'a" in order to target them and justify their imprisonment, torture or death. Not good, not good at all.


Seems we have found the Clash of Civilizations after all :P

Nur al-Cubicle

The press can be dominated so as to serve jingoism and getting up wars as we have seen on so may occasions in this country.

I have to admit that I was surprised that one of my favorite analysts at St. Joseph university, Michel TOUMA, raised the "Shi'a ideology of everlasting war".

Robert Stevens

In light of the Sunni/Shia question, what do you make of this from Zawahiri's videotape today Marc?


What a huge difference between the stance of those who accepted Resolution 1701 and the stance of the most sincere one, Abu Bakr which whom God was pleased, who when the Arabs apostatized, said "By God, if they refuse to give me a hobble, which they used to give the messenger of God, I will fight them over their refusal."

And what a huge difference between the stance of those who accepted Resolution 1701 and the stance of the Imam Husayn bin Ali (God was pleased with them both) who refused to give himself up saying, "no by God, I will not give them my hand like the meek and lowly, nor consent like a slave".



I have to admit that I was surprised that one...

I'm sure that was very painful for you, Nur :P

Do your American White Christian co-workers at the cubicle farm know how much you hate Americans, Whites and Christians? Just wondering!


I'd be interested to know how Luttwak came to the conclusion that Siniora's "stand against the Shiite Hezbollah resonates with his fellow Sunnis of Syria" since I myself know at least a handful of Sunnis (admittedly not Syrian or Lebanese) who are greatly heartened by Hizbollah's continued display of non-violent civil disobedience and consider its claims for greater participation in government to be entirely legitimate. Would that Fatah could have followed Hizbollah's example and entered into some form of honourable opposition against the Hamas government instead of turning last year's Palestinian parliamentary elections to a joke.


I've heard cracks about "Hariri Inc" for quite a while, but today's strike does underscore the extent to which the divide is one of class as much as sect (not that those are totally divorced in today's Lebanon). The labor unions look like they're standing with Nasrallah, and the business community with Siniora. Pretty familiar, then: more like Venezuela than Iraq.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Blog powered by Typepad